A roundtable "Democracy and Economic Growth" held within the framework of the second Russian Economic Congress in Suzdal discussed how the type of a political system may affect economic growth.
Grigory Yavlinsky, Professor at the Higher School of Economics and founder of the YABLOKO party, set the tone of the discussion. He noted that economic growth has been considered a key indicator of economic development. However, he stressed that there has been no direct correlation between the economic growth and the type of the political system. Economics can not yet answer the question why the most developed democratic countries do not show sustainable economic growth while some authoritarian states may demonstrate impressive economic growth rates.
"It is believed that sustainable economic growth is not possible without democracy,” said Yavlinsky. “But there are, for example, Asian countries that show a very steady growth in the absence of democracy. Moreover, there is such a stance that democratisation negatively affects the economic growth. And a quick and decisive change of a political system towards democratisation may lead to reduction of the economic growth".
According to Yavlinsky, the economic crisis of 2008 – 2009 has refuted the stereotype that democracy promotes economic growth. "In the recent years we have seen the economic crisis in the countries that were assessing the rest of the world as of promotion of democracy. And this crisis has not ended yet, it has turned into a recession,” said Yavlinsky. “The national debt of the most democratic country in the world - the United States - has reached 15 trillion dollars, all the US manufacturing has been transferred abroad, and now the US President is trying to return manufacturing back to the country".
Also it is unclear how the economic growth in Russia and the problem of the qualitative economic growth, as well as rise of the quantitative indicators of the macroeconomic growth in the absence of economic development can be explained, Yavlinsky said. "There are such conditions when economic growth, especially growth of real per capita incomes, is counterproductive in terms of development prospects,” he explained. “In Russia, for the past ten years real incomes grew by 2.5 - 4 times, but what about the qualitative indicators of the economic growth?"
Despite positive macroeconomic indicators, the structure of the Russian economy has not changed over the years. Most of the federal budget revenues come from the raw material companies. The success of the innovative business seems important on paper only: there seem to be some projects in this field, however, there are virtually no Russian high-tech products, he concluded.
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